Preview Workflow

Viewing: ENG 464 : British Literature and the Founding of Empire

Last approved: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:21:35 GMT

Last edit: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:21:27 GMT

Catalog Pages referencing this course
Change Type
ENG (English)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
British Literature and the Founding of Empire
Brit Lit and Founding Empire
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
English (16ENG)
Term Offering
Spring Only
Offered Alternate Even Years
Fall 2016
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Graded with S/U option
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
James Mulholland
Associate Professor

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote
Requisite: Sophomore Standing or Above

Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
SIS Program CodeProgram TitleRequired or Elective?
16ENGBA-16LLTEnglish BA-LiteratureElective
16ENGLBAEnglish BAElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLCRW English BA-Creative WritingElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLFLMEnglish BA-FilmElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLLWREnglish BA-Language, Writing, and RhetoricElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLTEDEnglish BA-Teacher Education Elective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLMEnglish BA- FilmElective
This course uses literature to understand rapid shifts in making and breaking empire. Reading novels, newspapers, essays, and autobiographies, we will study liberty in colonial North America, the orientalism of British India, and adventure writing of nineteenth-century Africa. In 1773, George McCartney, a British imperial officer, looked out from India and saw a "vast empire on which the sun never sets." Ten years later the thirteen American colonies that had founded that empire were gone. We will use this sentiment to determine how empire shaped the world and to consider how it contributed to Britain's literary and cultural traditions.

This course is being revised to reflect the increasingly international nature of teaching about British Literature. Its chronology is being expanded so that the contemporary context of British literature accurately reflects its deeper historical antecedents. 


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories
Global Knowledge
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
Interpret works of English literature written from the English Renaissance through 1900 within their historical and cultural contexts and within the context of English/British colonialism and Empire.
Critical essays.
Sample topic: Suvir Kaul discusses the way that British poetry in the eighteenth century was able to assess the problems of contemporary modernity and globalization. Use Alexander Pope’s “Windsor Forest” to interrogate how poetry formulates ideas about globalization. As you write your paper, examine his metaphors and figures for what we discussed in class as the poem’s global consciousness. How does Britain relate to the rest of the world in Pope’s poem? What are the results of Pope’s vision of this worldly Britain? What are its historical antecedents?
Analyze, evaluate, and/or synthesize different interpretations of literary texts, using these literary texts to demonstrate the different interpretations of the same cultural events such as the salve trade and its abolition, the American Revolution, and the colonization of India and Africa.
Critical essays.
Sample topic: In his essay “An Image of Africa,” Chinua Achebe claims that “Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist” (176) and asserted that “Conrad saw and condemned the evil of imperial exploitation” but was “strangely unaware of the racism on which it sharpened its iron tooth” (181). Use Achebe’s assertions to analyze the use of narrators—Marlow in particular—in the structure of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Is Conrad a racist for the statements he attributes to Marlow? Does Marlow reinforce the racism of imperialism even as he seems occasionally to condemn it?
Compose well-developed critical essays and cogent discussion responses that describe the relationship between English Literature and the formation of the British Empire and its impact on the idea of what it means to be defined as a human being (or not to be defined as human).
Critical Essays
Sample topic: Assess the importance of the inconsistencies in the status of the character of Oroonoko/Cesar, the “Royal Slave,” in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko. What do the changes in his characterization tell us about his status as a free African and then eventually as an enslaved man? How does Ramesh Mallipeddi’s idea of the spectacle of suffering or Srinivas Aravamudan’s idea of Oroonoko as a “exotic” object help you to capture the book’s representation of him as a human being?
While there are a number of different avenues within which you may present your answer to this topic, you may wish to focus in particular on the novel’s depiction of slavery as a relationship between Africans and Europeans within the British Empire. Remember, this first paper is short, so cogency is essential; offer a rigorous overall schematic while analyzing a few significant and illustrative examples.
Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:
Assess the formation of the British Empire as a multi-century process that involved the interactions of a number of different cultures across the globe, including those in the Americas, South Asia, and Africa, describing how the interactions of British colonialists and native cultures affected those native populations and gave shape and identity to the British Empire.
Critical Essays
Sample Topic: Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker claim in The Many-Headed Hydra (1999) that the American Revolution “was neither an elite nor national event” (212). Instead, they suggest it was part of a global revolution in which impressed sailors, freed (and unfree) slaves, pirates, and idealists, like Thomas Jefferson, combined into a “motley crew” of revolution. In particular, they use the example of British anxieties about sailors of Boston—called a “Metropolis of Sedition” (221)—circulating through the Atlantic world to Liverpool, Africa, and the Caribbean spreading radical ideas as a “vector of revolution.”

Use one example from our course reading to demonstrate how the American Revolution had its origin in global ideas. These readings might focus on the grievances about the slave trade that were in the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Johnson’s lesson on colonialism from the British perspective in Taxation No Tyranny, or Benjamin Franklin’s 1784 cautions to British citizens who might want to emigrate to a newly independent America, or Philip Freneau’s attempts to distinguish America from Britain by how they treat Native American populations.
Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.
Examine the relationship among British colonies in the course of the British Empire’s evolution and explain the changing relationship between those colonies and the British Isles, debating the effects of cultural mixing among colonizers and colonists, immigrant and “native” populations within numerous British colonies across the globe and how these different colonies acclimated themselves to the new social identities that resulted from this mixing.
Critical essays.
Sample topic: The scholar Elleke Boehmer has suggested that nineteenth-century anti-colonial movements in British colonies increasingly looked to each other for examples and tactics with which to resist British Imperialism. Select one example from our reading and discuss how these borrowings occurred and to what extent the British were aware of this conversation about resistance among their different colonized subjects. In this response you should also make reference to our discussion of British writing about empire from other geographical areas outside of Asia (therefore: America, the Caribbean, or Africa).




US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
30% of seats restricted to undergraduate English majors.
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
Sophomore standing or above.
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.

Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.

List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.


During the semester, students will:

1. Interpret how English literature commented on and contributed to the formation and founding of the British Empire.

2. Examine how writing about the British Empire reflects changing ideas about what empire means and how it is created.

3. Consider how literature was used to debate the idea of British Empire, for example in the context of the American colonies during the American Revolution.

4. Become familiar with how literature about the British Empire at times altered and at other times solidified notions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality as well as regional, national, and transnational identities.

5. Gain experience with the critical traditions of analysis of the British Empire as it is developed from history, theories of globalization, and postcolonial theories.

6. Learn to make critical arguments and defend intellectual assertions about colonialism, empire, and imperialism by making reference to the literary texts and critical essays read for the class. 

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

1. Identify major shifts in the history of the British Empire between 1660 and 1900 and identify how those shifts affected the composition of literature in English. 

2. Critically evaluate and interpret primary sources (literary texts) and secondary sources (essays and book chapters) as well as comprehend the historical and contemporary contexts of cultural texts.

3. Construct arguments that assert positions about major changes in literature composed in response to the British Empire between 1660 and 1900.

4. Explain how issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality contributed to ideas of the British Empire.

5. Explain how changes in the British Empire were connected with, and helped elaborate, forms of identity, including regional, national, and transnational identities.

6. Describe how individuals, groups, and institutions interacted with each other in different ways as a result of changes in the administration of British Empire. 

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Participation10%See syllabus
Short Paper30%See syllabus
Forum_post20%See syllabus
Short Paper40%See syllabus

Key: 2341